by Risa Kawamoto
The Vata Dosha
Vata is comprised of Air & Ether (space) elements. Vata means ‘wind’ and is the energy that controls movement in the body.
The qualities of Vata are light, cold, dry, mobile & erratic.
Vata is the primary Dosha and it’s the motivating power behind the other 2 Doshas – Pitta and Kapha, as these 2 Doshas are not capable of moving without Vata.
Because of that, it’s very important to care for Vata and maintain a good balance.
Signs & Symptoms of Vata Imbalance
Strong intolerance to cold
Restless, inability to sit still
Muscular tension, spasms, tics, tremors
Dry, cracking, still joints, nerve pain
Dry, hard, rough stools, constipation, excessive gas, and bloating
Dryness in the skin, lips, and hair
Susceptible to illness, cold, UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)
Lack of concentration
Sensitivity eg. to loud noise
Fear, anxiety, nervousness, mood swings, insecurity
How to Balance Vata with Diet The major needs for Vata types are grounding foods and regularity. Therefore Vata needs to have regular meals at the same time every day and eat in a calm and unhurried atmosphere without any destructions (no eating while watching TV, working, or on the phone!).
And avoid eating on the go and take time to sit down to eat.
If you are seeing symptoms of Vata imbalance avoid anything light, dry, has cold qualities, and opt for hot liquid, oily, heavy qualities (applying the concept of ‘opposites decrease each other’!).
In general, Vata types should avoid raw, cold dry foods like salads, raw vegetables, smoothies, juices, and crackers (any drying snacks) and instead have foods that are warm, cooked, nourishing, and easy to digest.
Examples of Vata pacifying foods are sweet potatoes, beetroot (beets), asparagus, carrots, green beans, courgettes (zucchini), mung beans, and quinoa.
If you are experiencing Vata imbalances, avoid dry beans such as chickpeas (black chickpeas are fine), lentils and kidney beans, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Pacifying Tastes (Rasa) for Vata Add sweet, sour, and salty tastes to your food and avoid pungent, bitter, and astringent. Examples of food that have a sweet taste are sugar, honey, rice, milk, cream, butter, bread, and grains.
Examples of food that have a sour taste are lemons, limes, cheese, fresh yogurt, tomatoes, plums, acidic fruits, and vinegar.
Spices to Balance Vata Add warming spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom, fennel, cumin, and hing (asafetida) to your food. This will prevent any digestion issues that Vata types tend to get, as well as anxiety, dry skin, or insomnia.
How to Balance Vata with Lifestyle
Maintain regular habits, try to sleep at the same time every night (ideally by 10 pm), and wake up at the same time every morning. If you have trouble sleeping, take a warm bath, listen to calming music, and/or do a short meditation or Yoga Nidra before bed. Avoid intense exercises and any activities that cause sensory overload in the evening.
To quieten a busy Vata mind, Vata needs to take time for grounding, self-nurturing, and quiet reflection. A regular massage and a daily walk in nature are great for Vata. Exercise intensity should be moderate. Avoid strenuous and frantic activities such as the dynamic style of Yoga and opt for more meditative and slower-paced yoga, Tai chi, and walking.
Ayurvedic Daily Routine Regardless of your Dosha, creating a powerful structured daily routine is essential for promoting optimal physical, mental, and emotional health.
How to Balance Vata with Yoga
The natural tendency for Vata types is to focus on air and space qualities and love movement and flowing poses, such as Vinyasa Yoga. But what Vata needs the most is slow, grounding, and calming practice, where you hold the poses and move mindfully through sequences such as slow-paced sun salutation.
Recommended Yoga Poses for Vata
Grounding & Stability: standing postures
Heating internal organs and lower back: forward bends and gentle backbends on the belly. Forward bends are also great for calming the nervous system
Digestive & Circulatory system: Inversions
Digestive system & nervous system: spinal twists
Quieting mind: balancing postures
Focus on pelvis, hip & thigh areas to release tension
Example Yoga Poses for Vata
Downward Facing Dog: A grounding posture
Wide Knee Child Pose: Hip opening, releases tension physically & emotionally
Revolved Lunge Pose: Good for digestive system & nervous system
Side Plank Variation: Helps quieten the mind